CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The halls outside Attorney General Darrell McGraw's office are looking a little "bear."
That's because on Monday, some of McGraw's office staff loaded up the three stuffed black bears that have lived outside the office for the last decade and transported them back to their original owners.
"The attorney general wanted to return them to their rightful owners. They were always on loan to him," said Joe Clay, McGraw's chief financial officer.
Clay also serves as the office's comptroller and, by his own admission, "occasional bear distributor." He and some other staffers unbolted the bears from their wooden pedestal Monday morning and loaded them into a truck.
Two went back to Ken Hechler, the former secretary of state who brought the first stuffed bear to the Capitol in the 1980s.
"Since the black bear is the state animal, I wanted to obtain a black bear or two to keep in the entrance to my office," he told the Daily Mail last week.
Hechler added another bear to his collection in the 1990s, and then loaned the animals to McGraw when he left office in 2001 after the attorney general promised to keep them on public display.
When McGraw lost to Republican challenger Patrick Morrisey in November, he called the former secretary of state and asked if he wanted his bears back.
"Ken was very excited to see them this morning," said Linda Harvey, Hechler's administrative assistant.
The animals now will reside at Hechler's Kanawha City office. Harvey said they would remain in the office until Hechler, 98, dies.
"They'd been putting all kinds of stuff in the newspaper, as if the state government was going to decide where they went," she said.